Commuter Bikes vs. Non Commuter Bikes

My stable of bikes is currently five, in order of how long I’ve owned them:

  1. Raleigh Crested Butte (2012)
  2. Schwinn Heavy Duti (2014)
  3. Bantam Rambleneur (2015)
  4. Raleigh Superbe (2016)
  5. Robin Hood path racer (2018)

All of them have done “commuting duty”, i.e. get me to and from work, run errands, pick up groceries, etc. But over the past year, I’ve started to categorize these bikes into two primary categories: commuter vs. non.

Why the split? Well, some of my bikes are better set up for utility cycling, while some of my bikes I prefer more for fun. This really comes down to baggage. The bikes that do more of the commuting are now set up with bags that are easy-on, easy off:

Now why is this a big deal? Well, I live in a city where not only bike thievery is rampant, but thievery from bikes is also at a high. I’ve dealt with this personally: My Brooks B-67 saddle was swiped from my Worksman Low Gravity in 2012.* On Election Day 2016 a Treetop handlebar bag was yanked from my Superbe while parked in front of a grocery store. (This also meant the loss of moosemoose.) And sometime in 2017 my rolled up waxed rain cape was yanked from the Carradice Camper Longflap on the Superbe.

In the past I’ve left things like transverse saddlebags on my bike and hoped they didn’t get yanked while I was in the store or cafe. Nowadays I’m wary of that approach. When I ride my Robin Hood which can only carry a saddlebag, I make sure I remove the rear Carradice when I go inside, even though removal or installation takes a few minutes. Rather than deal with this pain than the pain of coming out and having it gone.

So I’ve been trying to use those three bikes listed above as my primary around-town machines, and the two others (Bantam, Robin Hood) as the more “special occasion” riders. I’d rather use the bikes where the bags are easy-on, easy-off for the workaday stuff.** I know it’s not the most positive mentality to have, but it’s the most pragmatic for Portland Oregon in 2019. Thankfully my commuter bikes are still cool and a joy to ride!

*Since then, I’ve made sure all my saddles have a good chain on them.

**Also, the Crested Butte and Heavy Duti have Abus rear wheel locks (cafe locks) and integrated chains, which I find particularly useful for city riding.

3 thoughts on “Commuter Bikes vs. Non Commuter Bikes

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  1. Locking up your precious while in a store is so fraught with anxiety these days. All my rack bags come off immediately. I use Jannd grocery store panniers. Jannd has the best instantaneous system for taking off a bag that I’ve used up to this point. If I’m on a bicycle with quick release wheels then they must be locked up also. I’ve not gotten down to locking the saddle yet but if its happening in Portland then it will follow down to us no doubt. The best bicycle for going into town that I own is a Worksman Low Gravity like Shawn used to own. These bikes don’t present anything that thieves want. Old one piece crank with coaster brake. Super large front basket bolted to the bicycle. All wheels bolted on. One 26″ and one 20″ wheel. Big clunky cruiser seat. Not a lot there for thieves to want. I let the appearance of that bicycle deteriorate so that it looks junky and that helps also. The thieves always miss the fact that the chain is well oiled and the tires in good shape. I always use Kryptonite U locks and hardware store chains and locks to keep the wheels. I don’t park anywhere on a regular basis so thieves can’t plan. I don’t park for long. I try to shop where I can see the bicycle all the time. I’ve lost three bicycles so far and all of them hurt me bad. I was much poorer when I lost those bicycles and they represented a whole lot of mobility and usefulness to me at the time.

  2. Strange how punishment never comes close to fitting the crime! Could that be why the honest members of society pay such a high price in every way possible…

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